Keeping the theme of "bottom up video" as a rising trend, old friends of mine announced a deal today for Sony Pictures Entertaiment to purchase the social video service Grouper for 65 million dollars. I suspect we will continue to see the line between traditional media companies and online user created media continue to blur. Here is bit from the press release:
"Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has acquired Grouper, the fast-growing user-generated video site on the Internet, it was announced today by Michael Lynton, SPE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer...Consumers are spending more and more time on sites like Grouper, and as one of the world's largest creators of entertainment, we want to be where the audiences are," said Lynton." In another story he compared social video sites this way: "I think user-generated content and the sites around (them) are businesses or platforms unto themselves in the same way that television networks (are)," Lynton said.
Adding to Tim's post about Arnold's innovative use of SMS, today the Gov showed the use of another new tool - Spanish language media. While it is not a particularly noteworthy piece of media, he is showing up in Spanish. From our vantage point this seems like a pretty smart thing to do, as as much as 1/4 of the California electorate is Hispanic, and perhaps as much as half of that - as much as 12 % of the electorate - prefers Spanish.
A terrific, racey piece from Clay Risen at TNR about the dangerous rise of protectionist sentiment. Its title - The End of Free Trade - is, of course, absurdly dramatic. But Risen is particularily good on how the Bush administration's warm words hide a melange of base politics (steel tarrifs), a conspicous lack of leadership (doha) and political cowardice (the rest) to leave the case for open markets much more vulnerable at the end of his Presidency than at the beginning:
Bush is seen by many as having given up because the political consequences at home are too great. Consider: the bruising battle over the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the successful opposition to the bid by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation to buy Unocal last year, the Dubai Ports World fight this year, the near-failure of a trade deal with Oman, and the possible failure of a similar deal with Peru. All a consequence of protectionist sentiment in Congress, all instances where Bush's supposed trade leadership was hampered by domestic political concerns. With the midterm elections coming, it's a good bet that Bush doesn't want to hurt his party any more than he already has--and pushing GOP congressmen to back more free-trade efforts would hardly help. This may be no-brainer politics at home, but, to the rest of the world, it is a dismaying retreat.
Economist Brad De Long runs on ongoing series of blog posts with the despairing title "Why Oh Why Can't We Have A Better Press Corps?" The same thought crossed my mind when reading this morning's Washington Post report on immigration. The story features a scarily large number without any context: $126bn, say the CBO, would be needed to fund the Senate Immigration Bill. $126bn? Sounds like a lot. They got that figure by adding up various smaller numbers in the report itself (pdf). But within the context of an annual budget of $2.6trn it sounds more palatable. That context was nowhere to be found in the Post piece. What is more, as Dean Baker notes over at TAP, the CBO have produced other, much lower estimate of the Sentate Bill's costs. Again, not worth a mention. But look again even at the Post's figures. The article gives the impression that the $126bn figure is annual. But it is actually change over the course of nearly a decade (2007-2016). This makes for an average annual increase of a touch over $14bn. I'd say roughly $14bn a year for a comprehensive fair reform of a broken immigration system sounds like a fair deal. And if you consider the $180bn a year in average annual lost revenue between 2010 and 2020 to make the tax cuts permanent, it sounds like a steal.
Pork? Its what's for dinner, or at least so says the newly minted, bipartisan Sunlight Foundation. The Christian Scinece monitor profiles their efforts to end the increasingly dispiriting rise of earmarks as a day-to-day tool of Republican congressional management:
"Once you know who the member is, you can start asking questions such as: Is there a direct financial connection with a member of the board of directors who is a [campaign] donor? How was this hospital or training program chosen over another? Sometimes it's because it's the best program; sometimes it's because there's a lobbyist who is paid," says Zephyr Teachout, national director of the Sunlight Foundation. "We hope to turn K Street upside down."
Somewhat quietly, Arnold has added SMS outreach to his campaing site. You can find it here, and you can see that they have added “ringtones” as a download from their site as well, although that is “coming soon.”
I believe this is the first use of SMS in a gubernatorial race in the US. More details on the offering as it surfaces…
I’ve been posting recently about watching politics adapt to YouTube, thinking this would be a development that would take a while to sink into the mainstream. But this Sunday the New York Times had a story on the cover of its Week in Review Section on The YouTube Election.
I have been involved in the tech and new media world for a while, and spent good chunk of the 1990s at Wired magazine. We always figured that when a trend or new technology hit the front page or a section cover of the Times, then it was mainstreamed. Then the ruling elite of the country sat up and took notice.
Even though he's not running for re-election this year, President Bush knows just what he would focus on if he were: the economy and taxes. "If I were a candidate ... I'd say, 'Look at what the economy has done. It's strong. "If I were a candidate ... I'd say, 'Look at what the economy has done. It's strong. We've created a lot of jobs. ... I'd be telling people that the Democrats will raise your taxes. That's what they said. I'd be reminding people that tax cuts have worked in terms of stimulating the economy," Bush told reporters at a news conference.
The economy is slowing sharply. Job figures have been disappointing for two months. The housing market is flattening. Commentators think the Fed rate rise "pause" might now be a "full stop." And, if extended in 2011, the tax cuts will create deficits larger than anything yet seen. It tells you something about the rotten state of the Middle East the the President think the economy is his undersold good story.
This intriguing article from The LA Time's Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger caught my eye. (It was originally in the LA Times in June, but for some reason has been reprinted by the Star Tribune. I didn't catch it first time round.) They disucuss June's election in the California 50th, claiming the GOP won at the last minute by cranking up their legendary vote winning machine:
The results in the 50th Congressional District did not merely illustrate the potential inadequacy of the Democratic strategy for the November elections; they foreshadowed a much bigger and more startling story line: That even in the face of Republican scandals, sour approval ratings, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and growing public rejection of President Bush's policies in Iraq, the Republican Party still holds the lead in the art and science of obtaining power -- and keeping it.
They go on to outline one of the GOP's systems in more detail:
Some of the GOP advantages are recent developments, such as the database called Voter Vault, which was used to precision in the San Diego County special election. The program allows ground-level party activists to track voters by personal hobbies, professional interests, geography -- even by their favorite brands of toothpaste and soda and which gym they belong to..... Democrats also use marketing data, but Voter Vault includes far more information culled from marketing sources -- including retailers, magazine subscription services, even auto dealers.... Voter Vault, although it is a closely guarded GOP trade secret, is nevertheless easily accessible to on-the-ground campaign workers and operatives should they need to mobilize votes in a hurry.
As NDN's ongoing Tool's Campaign has been arguing, if we lose in November at least part of the reason will be that the ongoing gap in campaign kit. Which, given how badly things are going for the GOP on the economy, the war and the rest, would be painful indeed.
Trade has many enemies and few friends. This was among the most obvious conclusions from the collapse of Doha. Producerist agricultural interests in Europe, America and India all combined to limit negotiator's room for maneuvre. Meanwhile, countervailing pressure from business groups was weak. Ultimately there should have been few surprises that the political scientists favourie scenario - concentrated costs vs diffuse benefits - scuppered the talks. So its nice this morning to see at least the beginnings of a fight back. The Chairman of Citigroup along with a few other CEOs has written to the President, asking for one last push on the talks. What is at stake? A lot. The value of the talks themselves is not insignificant, put at something shy of 300bn by the World Bank. But much more important is the sanctity of the multilateral WTO framework itself. If Doha is junked and replaced by a range of bi-lateral deals, it imperils the authority of the system of trade dispute resolution that the WTO system built. As NDN's Rob Shapiro said at the launch of our Globalization Initiative this system is central to understanding globalization:
More than ever before, everybody shares the same economic rules regarding both how to treat themselves and how to deal with others. This is largely the result of the WTO process, which requires countries like China and India, that used to be organized around monopoly franchises and state enterprises, to open themselves to foreign investment and domestic competition.
Without the WTO system, America has little leverage over its partners in enforcing fair trade rules. That said, we should treat the run in to November with some trepidation. Trade Envoy Susan Schwabb announced a trip to China shortly to discuss ways forward on trade.More worryingly, the coming months are likely to see more trade flare ups, not less. The return of threatened sanctions against China's currency valuation is likely, unless Treasury Sec Paulson borkers a deal. The CFIUS regulations on foreign ownerships are up for review. And electioneering Congressional leaders are unlikely to take kindly to any new job losses that even sniff of having been caused by trade. All in all, choppy times ahead. But one final push by all concerned remains a better option than no push at all.
"Older politicians will have to get beyond their ideological blinders to recognize the opportunity waiting for any candidate or political party that can embrace both halves of the Millennial era civic ethos paradox."